Wales still bottom of UK's Gross Value Added table

Image source, tattywelshie/Getty Images
Image caption,
Cardiff's annual growth is the highest of the UK capital cities

Wales is again lying at the bottom of a UK table measuring the strength of the economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published regional gross value added (GVA) figures for 2016.

They measure how much money is generated through goods produced and services delivered.

Wales had the lowest GVA per head at £19,140 but its growth per head between 2015 and 2016 was the highest of the UK nations at 3.5%.

It is also the fastest growing of the UK nations (1.9%) when inflation is taken into account.

But Wales' GVA is still behind Northern Ireland on £19,997 per head; Scotland on £24,800 and England with £27,108.

Cardiff topped the economic growth of the capital cities in the UK with a rate of 5.7%, slightly higher than London.

However, GVA per head in Cardiff is much lower at £27,480 per head, than Belfast (£31,999) or Edinburgh (£39,321).

Figures for local areas have Anglesey with the lowest GVA in the UK at £13,655 while the Gwent valleys are second bottom at £14,759.

At the council level, Blaenau Gwent has the lowest GVA per head in the UK - £11,640.

New methodology has been used this year, aimed at giving a more balanced picture of income and production; taking into account changes to the economy such as more digital industries and non-traditional goods.

Image caption,
This map shows the GVA per head in different parts of Wales

Conservative economy spokesman Russell George AM said the figures were "an appalling reflection of successive Labour-led governments".

"After four major economic re-launches, and 18 years of Labour rule, Wales remains the poorest part of the UK," he said.

First Minister Carwyn Jones responded: "Today's figures show Wales was the fastest growing country in the UK with economic output rising to nearly £60bn between 2015 and 2016."

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns also welcomed Wales outperforming England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in growth and the performance of Cardiff.

But he said Wales continued to have the lowest GVA per head in UK.

"All our efforts - both within the UK and Welsh governments - must be focused on changing that trend and maximising the economic growth potential of our nation," he said.

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Adam Price welcomed the rise in growth but said Wales was "still playing catch-up with most parts of the UK".

He added: "This stark difference lays bare the huge challenge of rebalancing the economy - within Wales as well as throughout the UK."

Wales has failed to close the gap on the UK as a whole; as an index, it stands at 73% of the UK average - back to where it was three years before.

It has been bottom of the table of UK nations since 1997.

Analysis from Sarah Dickins, BBC Wales economics correspondent

Across Wales there are considerable differences. As the figures are honed down to local community level, those differences become even clearer.

Interestingly the gap between economic growth in west Wales and the Valleys and the east has widened. The reason is not clear.

These figures also tell us more about the types of work that have seen the most growth. At the top is head office management and consultancies.

There has been a 14.5% increase in what has been generated in those types of jobs.

However, Wales has only seen this area of work grow a little - 1.7% is the lowest in the UK.

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